ABOUT OURO PRETO: It is the former
Capital of the State of Minas Gerais, and attracts
tourists from all over Brazil and the world who
wants to know Brazilian history and sacramental
art of Aleijadinho’s and Ataíde’s,
as well as the local modern arts and crafts and
the typical food from Minas Gerais. It is approximately
100km from the airport in the city of Belo Horizonte,
and about 620km from Sao Paulo City, and 400km from
Rio de Janeiro. The town belongs to the State of
Minas Gerais and has about 67.000 inhabitants.
IS OURO PRETO: It is a picturesque
town and to walk through the steep and narrow streets
of Ouro Preto – that still keep the original
stone pavement – is like taking a stroll in
time. The city was granted the title of Cultural
Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This has permitted
the preservation of one of the richest architectonic
complexes in the country until today. Ouro Preto
was an important economic and political center in
the 18th Century, when enormous quantities of gold
were found in the mountains of Minas Gerais, which
brought great development to the region. The city
was also the stage for one of the most important
episodes in the History of Brazil: the Minas Gerais
Conspiracy, in 1789, when Joaquim José da
Silva Xavier (known as Tiradentes) fought for the
independence of Brazil, which still was a Portuguese
colony. Today, the large houses, churches and palaces
built during the so called Gold Cycle are museums
visited by thousands of people, displaying the former
owner’s objects. The houses that belonged
to the conspiracy members, and the baroque churches
decorated with gold in the most classical rococo
style, now house art and history. And if culture
and history become tiresome, and you would like
a more direct contact with nature, Ouro Preto offers
the Itacolomi State Park, with hiking trails and
TO GO / CLIMATE: It is possible
to visit the region during the whole year. The temperature
varies between 6 and 28°C, and in June and July
– winter time – it can reach 2°
C at night.
TO GO: The closest airport is Confins
CNF) airport located in Belo Horizonte, or the second
airport of Pampulha (PLU) also in Belo Horizonte.
Then by car or bus to the town of Ouro Preto or
you may travel via another charming town in this
region, named Tiradentes. It is also possible to
visit by land, from São Paulo and/or Rio
de Janeiro, but at the road conditions are bad and
long distanced, we you to recommend the visits via
LONG STAY: For the first time visitor
we recommend two nights stay, to able the visitors
to enjoy the place, its main attractions. Further
we use to recommend a visit to the neighboring town
of Tiradentes as well. Besides the pre-booked hotel
and airport transfers, we recommend you to book
the tour “guide walk in the historical center”.
WHAT TO DO IN OURO
PRETO: Besides the main attractions
in Ouro Preto that you can read more about below
there are some special events of interest as well,
that may justify a longer stay:
Winter Festival (July)
The Winter Festival is held in July, with musical
shows, theatrical shows, several kinds of exhibitions
and art workshops.
During this time, streets are adorned with carpets
made of colored saw dust and flowers, representing
the Way of the Cross lived by Jesus – a Catholic
Church tradition. It usually takes place in the
month of April, but because the date changes, the
correct days are defined annually.
(February / March)
Groups formed by student communities parade through
the city. It takes place every February and attracts
crowds interested in watching the merrymaking of
Ouro Preto’s citizens.
Lady of Pilar Church
This church’s project, considered one of baroque’s
most exquisite, is attributed to Pedro Gomes Chaves.
The engraving on the main chapel was made by Francisco
Xavier de Brito. The collection also includes an
engraving covered with gold and more than 400 sculpted
angels. Its ornamentation used 400 kilos of gold
and 400 kilos of silver.
Lady of Carmo
The project was by Manoel Francisco Lisboa, Aleijadinho’s
father, and it was constructed between 1766 and
1772. Vila Rica aristocracy attended it regularly.
Lady of the Rosary
It is a rare example of Mineiro baroque, with its
circular façade. Its construction, which
started in 1785, replaced the primitive chapel.
The interior is very simple, contrasting with its
external aspect, evoking black saints.
Francis of Assisi
This is the most famous church in Ouro Preto, and
it is one of the most magnificent examples of Mineiro
baroque. Its construction started in 1766. It is
also considered Aleijadinho’s masterpiece.
He was responsible for the building’s general
drawing, portals, main altar pulpit, lateral altars
and main chapel.
Lady of Conception Church
Its construction lasted from 1727 to 1746. Manuel
Francisco Lisboa, Aleijadinho’s father, was
in charge of its project and execution. They are
both buried in the church. The Aleijadinho Museum
is annexed to it.
Francis of Paula
This was the last church built during the colonial
period. Its construction started in 1804. The image
of its patron, which can be seen at the Aleijadinho
Museum, is attributed to the master. There is a
beautiful view of the city from its plaza.
Iphigenia or Our Lady of the Rosary from Alto da
Its construction lasted 60 years – between
1730 and 1790. Manuel Francisco Lisboa participated
in the project, as well as Francisco Xavier de Brito,
author of the engraving on the main chapel. Tradition
says it was built thanks to the gold from the Encardideira
Mine, acquired by Chico Rei. On its façade
there are the oldest stone clocks in the city.
Lady of Mercy and Compassion
This church was built between 1771 and 1793. The
central tower was a project by Manuel Francisco
This belonged to the artist’s association.
The main chapel and tower retable are Aleijadinho’s
drawings. It was built between 1730 and 1811.
John the Baptist Chapel
This is the oldest church in Ouro Preto, built by
determination of Antonio Dias, Brazilian explorer,
Dated from 1782 to 1787, it was constructed by João
Rodrigues de Macedo, a tax collector from the Minas
Province, who decided to live there as well as manage
its business. It had many uses, including a prison
for the conspiracy members. Today it houses the
Center for Study of the Gold Cycle, the Mint and
National Treasury Museum and the Ouro Preto Federal
Revenue Agency and a Gallery.
of Minas Science and Technical Museum
This was founded in 1877, as a Mining Museum by
Claude Henri Gorceix, founder of the School of Minas.
In 1995, it was expanded and became the School of
Minas Science and Technical Museum. Nine sectors
have already been implemented: Natural History –
zoology and paleontology -, Mining, Mineralogy,
Metallurgy, Iron and Steel Metallurgy, Design, Topography,
Astronomy and Electro-Technical. There are more
than 30 thousand pieces from all over the world.
Located in the old Novitiate house, the museum combines
different styles of pieces that rescue the traditional
religious customs of the Minas families.
The construction was initiated in 1784 by the City
Hall, during Luis Cunha Menezes’ government.
The work was interrupted several times, thus the
building was finished only in 1846. It was used
as the city government and a prison. In 1944, the
Museum was inaugurated, and its collection gathers
documents and objects that evoke the Inconfidência
Mineira (Conspiracy) and several works of Minas
Gerais Historic and Artistic Heritage. The conspiracy
members’ mortal remains rest there. The Museum
also has an annexed auditorium and the Manuel de
Ataíde Room, for temporary exhibits.
Local arts and crafts are rich in soap stone objects,
like vases, ashtrays, jewelry boxes, plates and
cups. These can be found in the city as well as
in neighboring districts like Santa Rita and Mata
dos Palmitos. Another of the region’s specialties
includes the gold and precious stone jewelry, especially
the rare imperial topaz. There are good antique
and souvenir shops, as well as local artisan galleries
spread throughout the city.